During my first two pastoral appointments, I lived beside church cemeteries. I often visited the graveyards, pausing to read the monuments. The tombstones inspired me to consider my own epitaph.
Possibilities included: Gone But Not Forgotten, Asleep in the Lord, Beloved Husband, Father, and Nobel Prize Winner, or I Told You I Was Sick!
Regardless of the words they grave for me, one day I will not be. Even lines etched deep in granite will weather and fade over time.
However, I will not be forgotten. One will still know me by name. God’s children never perish.
In his classic poem, “Death, Be Not Proud,” John Donne wrote: One short sleep past, we wake eternally, and Death shall be no more: Death, thou shalt die.
In a high hymn of hope and praise, the apostle Paul exclaimed: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”
On Easter Sunday, we celebrate the good news of the Resurrection. No tombstone marks Jesus’ grave. The first disciples discovered an empty tomb. The angelic proclamation still rings in our ears today: “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen, just as he said!”
For my epitaph, simply inscribe my name and the two customary dates. After the year of my death, however, place a comma rather than a period.
Easter reminds us that death is not THE END but a new beginning for all who trust in the Lord.